For years, savvy travelers have been booking flights as many as 6 months ahead of time to take advantage of early booking discounts. This year, however, what used to be a smart move could end up costing travelers more money as airlines begin to cut back and cancel flights this fall. According to Airline Cuts Hit Fliers Who Planned Early by Matt Phillips of the Wall Street Journal, many travelers have already been influenced by this situation.
Some of the ways in which these flight cancellations are affecting travelers’ plans and pocketbooks are:
- Disrupting carefully planned schedules and itineraries
- Added hours or days to trips
- Longer hotel stays
- Missed connections (flights, cruises, etc.)
- Required use of more vacation days than planned
- Nonstop flights being broken up (adding layovers)
While the airlines offer to change flights or refund the airfares, they will not cover additional associated expenses.
One example of how some travelers are being affected is a couple planning a wedding and honeymoon this fall. They had booked a flight that arrived in South America in time for them to board a cruise, but their original flight has been canceled, and the flight the airline wanted to put them on arrives a day later – too late for the cruise. The only other option the airline could offer was putting them on a much earlier flight, which disrupts their plans for spending time with family members who are traveling especially to attend their wedding. Not only will the earlier flight cut in on their family time, but it will add several days’ worth of hotel stays while waiting for the cruise’s departure.
Another example is a family planning a trip with small children. To make the trip easier on the young children, the parents had booked a nonstop flight with traveling times suitable for the children. Now their flight has been canceled and the only option the airline can offer is a flight with a connection that arrives late at night, which will be hard on the children.
The airlines say they are doing their best to contact and accommodate all customers being inconvenienced, but many travelers only found out that their flights had been canceled by checking their itineraries online.
If you have booked a flight for after Labor Day 2008
- Go online or call your airline to check your itinerary.
- Don’t wait for the airline to call you. There are a number of reasons they might not call you – a wrong or outdated number or they may have already tried to call once and may not try again, etc. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to work out a solution.
If your flight has been canceled or changed
- Check your contract of carriage for the terms on schedule changes and cancellations. (Don’t expect too much.)
- Contact customer service to ask about your options.
- If they do not offer you a suitable solution, cancel and request a refund.
Remember, they might change your flight for you, but they will not cover added expenses associated with the schedule change, so be sure to go over the rest of your plans for before and after the flight.